No. 14 Butler Escapes the Threat of Wright St., 66-61

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -Julian Betko scored a career-high 17 points, all in the first half, and No. 14 Butler held off Wright State 66-61 Thursday night to clinch the No. 1 seed in next week's Horizon League tournament.

The 6-foot-6 senior from Slovakia topped his previous career high of 15 points in 14 minutes in the first half and missed his only attempt in the second period.

Mike Green had nine of his 15 points in the second half, and Matt Howard added 12 points for the Bulldogs. Vaughn Duggins led Wright State with 17 points.

Butler (26-3, 15-2), which had lost its past three games against Wright State, finishes the regular season against last-place Detroit on Saturday. The Bulldogs had already clinched at least a tie for the regular-season title, and the win assured them of the top seed and a bye into the conference tournament semifinals at Butler on March 8.

Wright State (20-8, 13-5) would get the No. 2 seed and a spot in the semifinals by beating Valparaiso on Saturday. But a loss to the Crusaders could drop the Raiders to the third seed and force them to play a first-round game at home on Tuesday.

Betko, whose previous high this season was 14 points in a 43-42 loss at Wright State in December, bettered his career best against Tennessee last year with his fifth straight 3-pointer of the first half. That basket completed a seven-point run and gave the Bulldogs a 36-29 lead with under two minutes left in the period.

Butler, which led by eight early in the game, had a chance for a 10-point lead before Betko's first miss. A 3-pointer by Duggins that bounced on the rim and dropped in at the buzzer cut the Bulldogs' lead to 36-32 at the half.

Wright State cut the lead to one twice midway through the second period. But six straight free throws and a 3-point basket by Green helped the Bulldogs pad the lead, and the Raiders never caught up.

Both teams were coming off losses, with Butler 's 71-64 loss to Drake snapping a nine-game winning streak, and Wright State's 54-46 setback to Illinois State snapping an 11-game win streak.

The Raiders fell behind early because of the hot shooting by Betko and came back only after his first trip to the bench for a breather.

A 3-pointer by Duggins gave Wright State its first lead at 21-19, but Betko returned and immediately hit two more 3-pointers to put Butler back in front. There were two more ties before Butler's late run put it ahead for good.